Friday, December 31, 2010

"This Is The Face Of Bravery..."


Moroccan Writer Taia Challenges Homosexual Taboo

By Omar Brouksy – Thu Dec 30, 2010




TANGIERS, Morocco (AFP) – Novelist Abdellah Taia, who has won acclaim in France and readers abroad, has challenged a taboo in his native Morocco and won't back down: he is the first writer to come out as gay in a country that bans homosexuality.

For 37-year-old Taia, who has lived in Paris for the last decade, being homosexual and Muslim are not mutually exclusive. He "feels Muslim" and is from a country where Islam is the state religion.

"I am the first Moroccan writer who has spoken openly about his homosexuality, to acknowledge it, but without turning my back on the country I'm from," he said.

"My homosexuality, I already felt it from the age of 13, at school.

"But despite this, I feel Muslim. There is no incompatibility between Islam and choices of sexual identity," he told AFP on a recent visit back to Morocco.

Taia, who writes in French and has been translated into Spanish and English, emerged from obscurity to make a splash on the French literary scene with novels such as the 2005 "Le Rouge du Tarbouche" (The Red of the Fez), an autobiographical account of his life in Paris, where he moved in 1999.

In November, he was awarded the prestigious 2010 Prix Flore for young authors.

A slim, softspoken man with a timid smile, the writer was born in a working-class neighbourhood in Sale, the Moroccan capital Rabat's twin city, into a childhood marked by deep poverty.

"My father was a chaouch (messenger) at the national library in Rabat. We were nine children who lived on top of each other in two rooms," he said.

"There was nothing to eat. You had to fight to eat. We spent our days on the streets. We were barefoot." His mother, a housewife, was illiterate.

After studying French literature at university in Morocco, Taia, then 26, moved to Paris, pursuing a doctorate at the Sorbonne and writing his first novels.

"Le Rouge du Tarbouche" describes his "dream of writing" in Paris, "a city that doesn't lift you up if you fall". The book, his second, was also the first to mention his homosexuality.

Notoriety back home came two years later, in 2007, when Taia openly proclaimed his homosexuality in a frank interview with TelQuel, an independent Moroccan weekly known to take a critical line towards the government.

The writer quickly came under fire from part of the press and from Islamic circles in Morocco, where homosexuality -- as in most Arab states -- is considered a criminal offence.

In Morocco, it is punishable by six months to three years in prison but like liquor and wine consumption -- proscribed for Muslims under Moroccan law -- is tolerated provided practitioners don't flaunt their difference.

"For me homosexuality is not a cause, but a personal freedom. It is normal that I defend homosexuals because they are oppressed individuals," Taia told AFP.

Despite the scandal, Taia continues to spend much time in Morocco, where "obviously the fact that I am a writer published by big French houses protects me" from being persecuted for his sexual orientation.

Taia said he is "very attached to Morocco" and that "despite everything, I feel here like everybody else. I come from the same world."

He also feels the country is slowly changing and becoming more tolerant of differences.

"Despite some regression in Morocco, over the last 10 years there have been extraordinary things in terms of declarations of personal freedoms by many parts of Moroccan society," he said.

For Taia, the vocal conservatives who often dominate debate in the Islamic world are not a true reflection of how most Muslims feel.

"These trends, which are in the minority, are the result of the failure of social policy in the Arab world," he said.

"What interests me is the overwhelming majority, people who are simply Muslims and to whom I feel I belong."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 533"

"Happiness Is Being With The One You Love..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"The Imitation of Life..."

"The Artist's Corner"

"Boy's Night Out"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"This Made Me Smile..."

"The Artist's Corner"

"Bluebird"
Acrylic on canvas
Phillip Gladstone

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 532"

"Making a Home Together is One of The Joys Of Love..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"The Artist's Corner"

"11 o'clock Interior"
Acrylic on canvas
Phillip Gladstone

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 531"

"Love Means Sharing Everything, Including Doing the Laundry..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"The Artist's Corner"

"In the Morning"
Oil on canvas
Gena Ivanov

"The Truth About Love..."

"There's this illusion that homosexuals have sex and heterosexuals fall in love. That's completely untrue. Everybody wants to be loved. "

- Boy George

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 530"

"To Love Is To Be Safe In the Arms of Another..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"A Thought To Ponder..."


"A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years."

- Rupert Brooke

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 529"

"Love Makes Life..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"A Thought To Ponder..."


"A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave."

- Mahatma Gandhi

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 528"

"Together In Love..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"The Artist's Corner"

"Man In Lights"
Photo manipulation
Unknown Artist

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 525"

"Love Is The Greatest Gift of All..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"This Is The Face Of Bravery..."

"Merry Christmas Dan Choi!"

Senator Harry Reid returns Dan Choi's West Point Class Ring today.

"The Truth About Love..."

"It is love that asks, that seeks, that knocks, that finds, and that is faithful to what it finds."

- Augustine of Hippo

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 524"

"Love At Christmas - 1960s"


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"A Thought To Ponder..."


"There's a period of life when we swallow a knowledge of ourselves and it becomes either good or sour inside."

- Pearl Bailey

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 523"

"We Found Love In Our Work..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"It's About Equal Rights..."



"A life lived in fear is a life half-lived..."

"The Artist's Corner"

"Naughty or Nice"
Acrylic on canvas
Paul Richmond

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 522"

"Love and Happiness At Christmas..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"The Artist's Corner"

"Untitled"
Acrylic on canvas
Gena Ivanov

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 521"

"Let Your Love Shine At Christmas..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"A Thought To Ponder..."


"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself"

- Friedrich Nietzsche

"A Story to Share..."

A Muslim girl from Salina Elementary school receives a present from Santa Claus, played by Jim Stokes, an attorney who is director of appointments for the state of Michigan and the son of a Lebanese Catholic immigrant. He's described as an "Arabic Papa Noel."

Santa's Visit Brightens Day for Needy Muslim Students in Dearborn

By Niraj Warikoo
Free Press Staff Writer

The students were almost all Muslim, most of them the children of conservative immigrants from the Arab world.

But as they spotted Santa Claus Friday in the gym at Salina Elementary school in Dearborn, their eyes lit up with joy.

"Santa!" some shrieked as they entered to meet the jolly icon of Christmas and receive toys from him.

Started more than 20 years ago, the annual visit by Santa is geared towards a population in the south end of Dearborn that has high levels of poverty. Sponsored by ACCESS, Comerica Bank, and the Kiwanis Club of Dearborn, it gives more than 800 needy children, most of them Arab-American Muslims, dolls, board games, and basketballs for Christmas. It's also about introducing a new culture.

"Most of them don't know a great deal about Santa Claus," said Amal Berry-Brown, a vice-president at Comerica Bank who helped distribute the gifts on Friday.

The school is in the south end of Dearborn, which has the highest concentration of Muslims in the state, many of them with roots in Yemen. They take their faith seriously, as evident by the fact that many of the girls are already wearing hijab, the Islamic headscarf, while they're still in elementary school.

But that doesn't prevent them from enjoying Santa Claus, a figure with Christian roots but one who has a secular persona in the modern world. For years, this annual tradition has been warmly embraced by the Muslim community of Dearborn. It's a striking scene that illustrates how the Muslim-American population of Dearborn is open to Christian customs and American traditions. At a time when Dearborn is under attack from outsiders and politicians who claim it's under Islamic law, the scene inside the school Friday was an unspoken rebuttal, illustrating how different faiths and cultures work together.

"This is really the portal in Dearborn for immigrants," Stokes said of the south end of Dearborn, where most of the students live. "What better way to help celebrate the spirit of the season."

"This is Christmas right here," Stokes added as another class of students lined up to get presents. "This is what makes the holiday as real as can be."

To the participants, Santa was a symbol that all could relate to.

"Santa is not religious in that sense," said Brigitte Fawaz-Anouti, director of social services and special projects at the Dearborn-based ACCESS, the Arab-American group that started the event. "It's more a celebration of the season."

"He's an Arabic Papa Noel."

For the past 18 years, Santa has been played by Jim Stokes, a board member of ACCESS who is also director of appointments for the state of Michigan. His mother was a Lebanese Catholic immigrant and so he's sympathetic to the challenges that immigrants face when they're in a new land. When Stokes greets the kids, he occasionally drops in an Arabic phrase, but speaks mainly in English.

"What do you hope Santa has for you?" he asks a group of second graders.

"Presents!" they shout back.

The entire class was Muslim, but "they look forward" to meeting Santa, said their teacher Mariam Johair. "They write letters," to him.

"We don't talk about religion. It's just about Santa giving gifts."

Stokes, the man playing Santa, said the event was a way to bring the holiday spirit to kids from poor backgrounds. For some, these gifts might be the only ones they get all year, organizers said.

"We're helping make immigrant lives a little better," he said.


*********

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"It's About Equal Rights..."


Gays Celebrate Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Verena Dobnik, Associated Press

NEW YORK – Word that the world's largest military power will allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military brought strong and swift reaction Saturday, with supporters declaring a civil rights milestone and detractors insisting it would weaken and divide the armed forces.

In New York, home to one of the nation's largest gay communities and a gay pride parade whose grand marshal this year was an openly gay, discharged serviceman, 28-year-old Cassandra Melnikow glanced at a news ticker in Times Square announcing the repeal and said: "Excellent! It's about time."

"I don't see what difference (sexual orientation) makes in the fighting military," said Melnikow, a public health researcher. "What's the big deal?"

President Barack Obama had made repealing "don't ask, don't tell" a campaign promise in 2008, and rounding up a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate was a historic victory for him. By the time President Bill Clinton proposed allowing gays to serve in the military in 1993, they had been explicitly barred from military service since World War I.

Foes of lifting the ban argued that the military shouldn't be used to expand the rights of gays and that allowing them to serve openly would hurt troop morale and a unit's ability to fight — the same arguments used against women and blacks.

In the end, Congress agreed to let gays serve only if their sexual orientation remained secret.

Repeal means that for the first time in U.S. history, gays will be openly accepted by the military and can acknowledge their sexual orientation without fear of being discharged. More than 13,500 service members have been dismissed under the 1993 law.

The change wouldn't take immediate effect, however. The legislation says the president and his top military advisers must certify that lifting the ban won't hurt troops' fighting ability. After that, there's a 60-day waiting period for the military.

Conservative organizations said the vote didn't reflect the sentiments of rank-and-file military members and should not have taken place so close to the end of the current session of Congress.

"The issue that really disturbs me more than anything else is that legislation that's controversial tends to be done in lame-duck sessions when a number of the elected representatives are no longer accountable to the people," said Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council.

The Massachusetts Family Institute said Republican senators who voted for the measure broke a promise they had made not to vote on the repeal until the federal budget was resolved.

"In doing so, they not only have put special interests above fiscal interests but also have put our troops at risk during wartime," said Kris Mineau, the group's president.

Some supporters of the repeal traveled to Washington to witness the vote, including Sue Fulton, a former Army captain and company commander who is spokeswoman for Knights Out, a group of 92 gay and lesbian West Point graduates who are out and no longer serving

Driving back home to North Plainfield, N.J., the 51-year-old Fortune 500 executive told The Associated Press that she thinks the repeal will have an effect on the civil rights of gays in America.

"As more people realize that gay and lesbian citizens are risking their lives to defend this country, perhaps they'll be more willing to acknowledge gays and lesbians as full citizens in other ways," she said.

Others monitored the vote from afar.

Several gay service veterans and others supporting the repeal stood around a small computer screen to watch C-SPAN coverage of the vote at San Francisco's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. They erupted in cheers as the final tally was read.

Zoe Dunning, a retired U.S. Navy commander who continued to serve after declaring she was gay, cried and hugged other supporters.

"I'm living proof that the mere presence of an openly gay person in your unit does not harm either cohesion or morale," she said. "After 18 years working on this, I witnessed the end to this destructive policy, and these are tears of joy... I'm so happy to be present for this day that I'd always dreamed of."

Warren Arbury of Savannah, Ga., served in the Army for seven years, including three combat tours, before being kicked out two years ago under "don't ask, don't tell." But he said he planned to re-enlist once the policy is officially abolished.

"As soon as they give me the go, I'm going to march into the recruiter's office," he said. "And I want retroactive pay and rank."

Arbury said a fight for other social changes — such as allowing gays to marry and easing obstacles they face in adopting and raising children — still lies ahead, however.

"I think it's one step in a very long process of becoming an equal rights citizen," he said. "Even though this is really huge, I look at it as a chink in a very, very long chain."

In Brazil, where soldiers have been kicked out of the military for publicly commenting on being gay, gay rights advocacy groups said the Senate's vote would help advance their cause worldwide.

"The vote was an extremely important step forward for the United States and a major event for the world," said Toni Reis, president of the Brazilian Association for the Rights of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals. "I just hope that Brazil and other countries follow the American example."

Aaron Belkin, director of the California-based Palm Center — a think tank on the issue — said the vote "ushers in a new era in which the largest employer in the United States treats gays and lesbians like human beings."

For thousands of years, he said, one of the key markers for first-class citizenship in any nation is the right to serve in the military, and Saturday's vote "is a historic step toward that."



*******



My tears flowed for joy today!




"Fear Eats the Soul"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 520"

"Christmas Is About Love..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"Truth Shared..."


"Straight Americans need... an education of the heart and soul. They must understand - to begin with - how it can feel to spend years denying your own deepest truths, to sit silently through classes, meals, and church services while people you love toss off remarks that brutalize your soul."

- Bruce Bawer
The Advocate, 28 April 1998

"The Artist's Corner"

"Lullaby"
Mixed media
Jack Balas

"This Is The Face Of Bravery..."


According to published reports, today the U.S. Senate will take up the vote to begin the legislative repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The fight to win this basic right has been a long and hard battle for many including the GLBT service men and women serving in fear and silence right now...

Later this morning, I'll be calling the White House and these key members of the U.S. Senate to encourage them to "do the right thing" -- to lobby for and pass the repeal of this egregious impediment of the most basic of human rights, the right to be one's self.

Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Scott Brown (R-MA)
George Voinovich (R-OH)
Kit Bond (R-MO)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Joe Manchin (D-WV).

You can join me by calling or following the links below:

The time to repeal DADT is now!

The Whitehouse - 202-456-1111
The 111th U.S. Congress - 202-224-3121


"Fear Eats the Soul"

Friday, December 17, 2010

"The Power of Truth..."


"Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery."

- Matthew Arnold
"Self-Dependence," Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems, 1852

"A Thought To Ponder..."


"Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth..." - Benjamin Disraeli

"The Artist's Corner"

"Naughty or Nice"
Print
Paul Richmond

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 519"

"Love and Family at Christmas..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 518"

"Christmastime Is For Love..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"A Thought To Ponder..."


"Soldiers who are not afraid of guns, bombs, capture, torture or death say they are afraid of homosexuals. Clearly we should not be used as soldiers; we should be used as weapons." ~Letter to the editor, The Advocate

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 517"

"Living In the World, Living In Love..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"The Artist's Corner"

"All I Want For Christmas"
Acyrlic on canvas
Steven Clayton Corry

"A Thought To Ponder..."


Why can't they have gay people in the army? Personally, I think they are just afraid of a thousand guys with M16s going, "Who'd you call a faggot?"
~John Stewart

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"A Love Song..."


Aretha Sing One For Me

George Jackson
No. 38 Billboard Charts - 1972

Me and my baby
We had a big fight
And we ended our romance the same night
In a angry mood
She walked out the door
And he said he saw her going to an Aretha Franklin show

Hey, Aretha, play one for me
One that will let her know I'm as miserable as a man could be
Will you sing a song, that will touch her heart
And make her sorry that we are apart

I don't know if taking requests is part of your show
If you do me this one favor I'll be grateful to you forever more
Many romances have been saved through your sound
Your records have touched so many lovers, so many times

Miss Aretha, sing one for me
One that will let her know I'm as miserable as a man can be
Will you sing a song, that will touch her heart
And make her sorry we are apart

Play the song I could never love in anyone loved like I love you
Respect since you been gone call me tonight
Baby baby baby
A Bridge Over Troubled Water too
And
I can't see myself leaving you

Hey, Aretha, play one for me
One that will let her know I'm as miserable as a man could be
Will you sing a song, that will stay with her heart
And make her sorry we are apart

Miss Aretha, sing one for me
One that will let her know I'm as miserable as a man can be


This song moves me in strange ways... I never knew the name of it until today, nor did I know that it was actually a love song. I discovered it quite by accident some years ago when I heard a "de-vocalized" instrumental version on a blog post. I immediately fell in love with the haunting melody and the poignant chords that seemed to resonate in my soul. Somehow, I knew that this song was about what I now know its lyrics speak to - Love lost...

I used to listen to this when I was thinking of Stephen Christopher Harris. In fact I listened to nothing but the instrumental version of this song for the entire 800+ miles I drove from Detroit to Charlotte that fall when I foolishly believed in him and his promises of love.

I found myself thinking of him today and of those days when I gave up everything for love. It made me want to know what this song was really about... This song whose melody I've listened to for years and which had always been a reminder of him. It saddened me to learn that I was right about the song all along, but in a strange way, I always found solace in listening to it. Now that I can hear it as it really is, in a way I hope it helps me to close one more door and to walk through others that have now opened.

Finally, learning it's real title and listening to it gave me pause to ponder the recent sad news that Aretha Franklin has been ill and is reportedly battling pancreatic cancer... That she might have a hopeful prognosis is my prayer and that perhaps we can all continue to say, "Miss Aretha, sing one for me..."




"Fear Eats the Soul"




"Same Gender Loving People - No. 516"

"Life and Love at Home..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

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